Module details for Debating The 21st Century


This module aims to facilitate the development of critical thinking skills that form the basis for progression across the academic disciplines of the university. Student engagement is activated by fore-fronting `timeless' and `timely' ethical, social and political issues in a series of set piece debates, and by the provision of innovative follow-up opportunities for both enquiry-based group dialogue and individual critical reflection. Through a combination of debates and tutorials students are taught how to recognise, construct, evaluate, criticise and defend different forms of argument.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with : critical thinking skills that form the basis for successful progression through Abertay degree programmes.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Exhibit an ability to analyse, evaluate, debate, and communicate knowledge from competing intellectual perspectives.

2.  Demonstrate organisation, self-management and scholarship skills by using information technology to access relevant sources and complete assessments for set deadlines.

3.  Show evidence of collaboration and discursive review of written work with student peers.

Indicative Content

1 Potential 'Timeless' Debates

Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: eg, existence of God; privacy and civil society; private property; money as source of 'evil'; nature/nurture; free speech; pornography; capital punishment; prostitution; animal experimentation; meaning of justice; abortion; affirmative action; just war; trade union power; good life/good political community; human nature; monarchy; value of democracy; meaning of equality; citizenship rights etc.

2 Potential 'Timely' Debates

Debates delivered by internal and external experts on: eg, Scottish independence, academic freedom; drug legalisation; drug use in sport; immigration; free health care; war on terror; EU membership; euthanasia; progressive taxation; race and gender discrimination; gay marriage; human rights; politics/sport; global warming; internet censorship; nuclear power; education league tables; nuclear weapons; GM agriculture; religion; cloning; fair trade; value of contemporary culture; etc.

3 Critical Thinking Seminars

Follow-up discursive discipline specific seminar sessions led by teaching staff on topics covered in formal debates. Students are tutored to identify types of argument presented, evaluate perspectives and to reflect upon their own reasoning processes and value assumptions. The debates and seminars facilitate a foundation for the acquisition of graduate attributes.

4 WEB CT Wiki Discussion Forum

Students will be required to work in small groups to write a short 800 word indicative "Thinking Summary" online Wiki of the arguments presented in each debate. These summaries will be constructed by each designated Thinking Group of three students using the Wiki facility on Blackboard which will facilitate further discussion on the moderated WEB CT discussion forum.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Teaching and Learning Method Hours
Lecture 22
Tutorial/Seminar 6
Practical Activity 6
Assessment 25
Independent 141
Total 200

Guidance notes

SCQF Level - The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides an indication of the complexity of award qualifications and associated learning and operates on an ascending numeric scale from Levels 1-12 with SCQF Level 10 equating to a Scottish undergraduate Honours degree.

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2021/22 , and may be subject to change for future years.